KOSICE – It took a while for someone to generate an offensive spark in the tournament opener for both France and Switzerland, but when it came it was electrifying. Julien Vauclair's goal at 1:46 of overtime gave Switzerland a 1-0 victory over France.
Vauclair took a pass at the Swiss blue line from Ivo Rüthemann and then proceeded to skate through the neutral zone, curling to his right as he came in over the French blueline. He finished off by driving between defencemen Yohann Auvitu and Sacha Treille, and beating netminder Cristobal Huet from close in.
“It was a four on four situation [because of the overtime] and this is my type of situation,” said Vauclair. “The defenceman looked like he thought I was going to pass the puck, and it looked like I would be able to skate through. So I skated thorough.”
There was a lack of power in the game on a couple of levels. There wasn’t a great deal of offence generated by either team and, about one minute into the third period, electricity in the entire building went out. The power crash wasn’t just confined to the arena. Journalists were told that power “in most of the entire city of Kosice” had gone down and would be restored “soon.” Right on cue, the lights clicked back on. Unfortunately for the both teams, there was no light to be shed on their rather dimly lit offensive games.
Andres Ambuhl looked as though he had Switzerland’s first goal with 13:23 remaining in the third period. Parked off to the left of French goalie Cristobal Huet, Ambuhl had a good look and lots of time – but Huet fired out the left leg to take away the short side and keep the game tied at 0-0.
The Swiss expressed some quiet concern heading into the game about France’s ability to pull off an upset; as it turned out, those concerns were justified. Switzerland looked tight in the opening two periods, with no good scoring chances of their own and a couple of defensive breakdowns that led to chances for the French – one leaving Sacha Trielle all alone off to Swiss goaltender Tobias Stephan’s left, and another shorthanded chance that saw Laurent Maunier walk in all alone.
Switzerland outshot France 35-29.
France and Switzerland have now met 12 times at the WM, with Switzerland winning 9 times. The last time the French won against the Swiss was in 2000, when they defeated then 4-2.